7 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

This last week we went hiking as part of our Memorial Day activities.  We live close to the mountains and there are a lot of canyons and hiking trails to choose from, so we are always finding fun new places to explore.  My kids especially love hiking and it is one of mine and my husband’s favorite activities as well so we do a lot of it.  With this being the case, I’ve learned a few tips along the way that have helped make hiking a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

This post is sponsored by Nuby.  All opinions are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

It’s Not A Race
As we were walking along the trail with our kids this last week, they inevitably got side-tracked by different things: climbing on rocks, a flower, a stick.  My initial reaction was along the lines of: “C’mon, let’s go!” but then I realized that the point of the hike wasn’t about making it to our destination as much as it was about spending time together doing something we enjoy.  So if you go into your hike expecting that it will take longer, you can cut down on frustration at the so-called interruptions that are going to happen.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Bring Backpacks
This one has been a lifesaver for us when we go hiking.  I bought each of my kids a small backpack that we pack whenever we go on a hike.  Included in their packs is water and a couple of snacks to eat along the way.  They love having their own backpacks and I think it also helps them feel big and gives them a little bit more autonomy.  Even if your child says they will just carry their water or snacks in their hands or pockets, have them bring the pack because almost without fail they will want you to carry it for them or it will be put down and forgotten.  Here are a few good backpack options I found: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Create Teaching Moments
At one point in our hike, we stopped for a little snack break and the thought occurred to me to talk to my kids about littering.  I asked my daughter what we should do if we are out somewhere and there isn’t a garbage can for us to put the wrappers or plastic bottles in.  She replied that we should put it back in our backpacks and then throw it away later.  Then we talked about why that was important (keep trails clean, showing respect, etc).  It was a really simple lesson and one of those things that makes a bigger impact when we are actually out in nature rather than trying to explain it at some other time.  A few other teaching moments you could incorporate into your hike could be talking about plants and animals in the area, how rivers/streams are made, bring a nature journal and collecting leaves/flowers.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Research the Hike
Anytime we go on a hike, I make sure to find some basic information about it: Does it have bathrooms at the trailhead or along the way?  How long is the hike?  Difficulty level?  Directions or landmarks for finding the trail?  Best time of year for hiking?  Stroller or wagon friendly?  The list goes on and what you want to know will obviously depend on your own family.  I recently found a really helpful website called AllTrails.com, where you can search by state and it will come up with a list of hikes and a helpful description of what you’ll find.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Sunscreen, Wipes, Hand Sanitizer
Even if you put sunscreen on before you start the hike, odds are that you’ll need it again at some point before you get back to your car.  There are plenty of travel size containers of sunscreen that there really isn’t an excuse not to bring some.  Also, nature is dirty and kids seem to gravitate towards dirt so having something to wipe their hands off with is a good idea.  Just grab a travel size package of baby wipes and throw them in your bag.  And lastly, grab a small bottle of hand sanitizer to disinfect everyone’s hands with before eating or after playing in the water (if your hiking to a waterfall or by a stream).

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Flip-Flops/Water Shoes/Extra Socks
I don’t know about you, but after a long hike, all I want to do is take my shoes and socks off and let my feet breathe.  A lot of times, we will go out and get some food or stop by a store after our hike and it’s nice to have the extra pair of shoes to change into.  Depending on the hike, we will bring water shoes so we can wade around in the water and cool off, plus they protect our feet from sharp rocks and give us traction.  Along with this, consider bringing an extra pair of socks.  The shoes I use when we go hiking double as water shoes, but I hate wearing them without socks, so I like to bring an extra pair that I can change into before we start back.  Same goes for your kids.  Throw the flip flops or water shoes or socks into their backpack and let them carry it.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
And last, but not least, bring lots and lots of WATER.  This is one of those things that you absolutely do not want to skimp on.  Who cares if you have to stop along the trail 10 times so your child can relieve themselves?  It’s much better than the alternative.  Whether you’re hiking when it’s cloudy and cooler or hot and sunny, you need to keep yourself and your family hydrated and cool.  Little kids can overheat pretty easily so stopping and reminding everyone to get a good drink is essential.  Throw some ice cubes into everyone’s bottle or cup or even freeze the whole water bottle for a refreshing and cool drink for your entire (or at least most) of your hike.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

We brought our kids’ Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens with us on our hike and they were perfect.  The plastic is made of durable tritan from Eastman and the push top could be pushed down and covered by a plastic latch so it stayed clean.  The 12-oz size was perfect for our kids and how much they normally drink.  You can find these cups in store at Target and Babies R’ Us.  (Shop the water canteens online HERE.

(For my local Utah friends, the hike in these pictures is Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove.)

What tips and tricks have you found helpful when you go hiking with your family?

And now, I’ve got a fun giveaway that you can enter to win four (4) of these Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens for your kids!  See below to find out how to enter!

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"Mom, will you be my friend?"

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

I looked away from what I was doing and down at my daughter, nearly four years old.  She was holding her Belle tea set in her hands and looking up at me hopefully.

“I am your friend, sweetie.”  I told her.

“But Mom, you aren’t playing with me.  Will you be my friend?

How many times are we in the middle of something and when our children try to get our attention, we wave them off?  Tell them to go play.  Suggest they find a sibling.  Go read a book.  Watch a show.  None of these are bad suggestions in and of themselves.  But how often do we stop and give them our full attention?  For myself, I know I could improve.  Sometimes I get so concerned with multi-tasking and checking things off my list, that I don’t notice what my kids are doing until they are getting into something they aren’t supposed to.  And then what’s my knee-jerk reaction?  To tell them to stop.  Stop arguing, fighting, annoying each other, etc.

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

And what about the times when I do go and play with them?  Is my attention still divided between what needs doing, or checking Facebook, rather than getting involved with my kids?  I hate to admit it, but probably at least 50 percent of the time I’m playing with my kids I have my cell phone in hand or nearby.  Is there any phone call, text or post that is more important than taking a little time out of my day to be their friend?  See life through their eyes?

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

What am I teaching my daughter and my son when I ignore their requests–to play with them, draw a picture, have a tea party, make Play-Doh food, run around in the yard, jump on the trampoline–in favor of something else that doesn’t have to be done right that minute?  I don’t mean that I feel the need to stop what I’m doing every time my kids want me to play because, let’s face it, I really wouldn’t get anything done and there’s value in having them learn to play with each other or entertain themselves for a while.  But when they do ask, I need to ask myself: “How long has it been since I connected with my child?  A couple hours?  Five minutes ago?”

“Mom, will you be my friend?” 

My daughter was asking me for a little bit of my undivided attention in the best way she knew how.  And I could either keep doing whatever I was doing at the moment, or stop and play with her for a little while.  Thinking back, I have no clue what I was doing anyway.  I might have been on the computer or doing dishes or laundry.  It doesn’t really matter.  What mattered in that moment was how I decided to respond to my daughter’s request: I decided to be her friend.

My New Years Resolutions

2015 is coming to a close and we’ll be celebrating a new year in less than 48 hours.  Crazy!  It’s hard to believe how much can happen in a year’s time and yet feel like it went entirely too fast and you didn’t get to do all the things you would have liked.  Time definitely speeds up as you get older and life gets busier.

Here are a few things that happened in my life during 2015:

  • My daughter turned 3.
  • My son turned 1.
  • We finished our basement.
  • My husband quit his job and started a new one.
  • My husband graduated with his MBA.
  • We went to Disneyland.
  • I started this blog.

Along with the new year comes the opportunity to start fresh.  Obviously, this could be done at any time of year, but it seems most common for people to take a step back and evaluate the current year and create new hopes, dreams and goals for the new one ahead.  I include myself as one of these people and I get excited to think of new ways to grow and stretch myself in various aspects of my life.  I think there are basically two types of goals: the kind with a foreseeable end (ie. train to run a marathon) and the kind that are more long-term (ie. be more forgiving).  Both types are necessary if you are serious about improving yourself.

My brother-in-law is a comedian/motivational speaker and he’s always throwing this out there in regards to goals: “I don’t like to set goals.  I like to create a lifestyle.” Keeping this thought in mind, I’ve been doing some thinking about the goals/lifestyle changes I want to set this year and wanted to share a few of them with you.

Be more charitable  I was inspired to set this as a goal, and essentially adopt it as a lifestyle, when I read this quote:

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” – Marvin J. Ashton, 1992
Exercise regularly  Isn’t this a goal most people set for the new year?  Regardless, it’s one I’m setting for myself.

Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family  I want to make sure that even though I see my family every day, that I make the time to do specific activities with them where we can play and talk and create memories to grow and strengthen our relationship.  This might include going out for ice cream or bowling with my daughter, playing a game in the backyard with my son or doing a planned activity with my husband (at home or out on the town).

Keep up on my personal journal writing  I love going back and reading about past events, feelings and experiences.  They make me laugh.  They make me cry.  They help me see where I’ve grown and the lessons I’ve learned.  This is a goal I have to set for myself every year.  Some years I do better than others, but I’m always glad when I take the time to do it.
Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often  I’ve never met anyone, myself included, who doesn’t like to be told that they are loved, appreciated and that they matter.  It can be hard to remember to do because it’s so easy to take those we love and the things they do for us for granted.
While these aren’t all the goals I’m setting for myself this year,  I think it’s important to share our goals with other people so we remember them and so we are held accountable to them.
What are your goals for the new year?